This is the fourth article in March of the School for Housewives 1902 series published on Mar 30, 1902, and is Marion’s yearly Easter message. I very much enjoyed this particular article, especially Marion’s description of a blizzard.
School for Housewives – An Easter Greeting
A Glimpse of Nature, and the Tender Thoughts It Suggests
Hope and Promise Writ in the Budding of Storm-Stressed Woods
“You will have an Easter message for us. I hope?”
I looked up from the letter I was reading and through the window nearest my desk. Blizzard No. 3 of 1902 was in raging possession of the world. The fields were tumbled white sheets, rising and falling in the fierce wind. To borrow Charlotte Bronte’s words – “There was but one cloud in he sky, but that curtained it from pole to pole.” The benignant outlines of the hills I love were hidden behind wavering draperies of snow, now blotted out completely, now grayly traceable, troubled and unfamiliar. The trees rocked and struck blindly at one another with their naked arms, as in a frenzy of pain. The sullen roar of the north wind was like surf upon a rock-edged beach. From time to time the distant shriek of a belated train might have been the cry of wanderers done to their death by the tempest.
Within twenty feet of my window a grey-breasted woodpecker was driving his bill into the southward side of an oak, steadily and confidently as he will drill and seek upon May-day.
He came North with the bluebirds and a robin or two ten days ago. I saw him collecting sticks and straws for the underpinning of his next yesterday. The air then was soft and mild, the wind slept behind the hills, the sky was blue overhead. “A veritable weather-breeder,” said wise human creatures. Top-knot with the gray breast took no thought for the morrow. According to his calendar the winter was over and gone; the time for the singing of birds had come. His duty was to build and to trust. The twittering of a bevy of saucy snowbirds who watched his labors did not lift a feather of his crest. The weather was no concern of his.
It was no more of his business now. Supper must be had in good season, for twilight would fall early and hard. Instinct – or was it faith? – told him that fat larvae and drowsy beetles lurked under the rough bark, and he fell to drilling, nothing doubting.
But he stuck steadily to the southern side of the tree! The opposite side was coated with snow and flying flakes thickened the coat continually. Should the wind veer he would have trouble keeping his hold. The wind was none of his affair, either. He was comfortable and safe where he was. Should he draw that covert blank, the grove was made up of trees, and every tree had a southern side. As for what the morrow would bring, it was as likely to bring calm as storm, the more likely to bring sunshine because this day was inclement.
The cheerful diligence of his “drill! drill! drill! tap! tap!” the very perk of his top-knot said:
“Behind the clouds is the sun, still shining.”
Because there were trees, there would be leaves, and blossoms, and balmy airs, and floods of sunshine in God’s own good time. Meanwhile, he waited – always busily – and always on the southern side of the tree. It would be the sunny side before long. That was the reason eggs, larvae, beetles and borers were most plentiful there.
This, dear Constituents – so many more in number and so much more interesting than at this time a year ago, that my heart grows larger and warmer in thinking of you – this, then, is my “Easter Message.” Know of a surety, because the ways of the Lord of all are equal, that here is a southern side to every tree, and keep upon it. The storm must pass, for the sun is in God’s heaven, and good is ever stronger in the end than evil. As surely as the chilled and shrouded earth is, at heart, quick with life, and
“Underneath the winter snows
The invisible hearts of flowers
Grow ripe for blossoming” –
Shall joy come after your night of weeping.
As the blessed season of promise renews the memory of those we have committed to the warm, dark, sweet earth with the “sure and certain promise of immortality,” let it bring renewed appreciation of the sublimity, the beauty the glorious comfort bound up in those words. They always have to the ear of my soul a tone of the Voice which shall awake the sleeping children of the One Father in the dawn of the Day when he shall really and in truth begin to live.
Gather into smitten and yearning hearts the full blessing of the Easter-tide. Because Christ lives, our beloved shall live also, and we with them when Easter promises shall ripen into heavenly fruition.